Saturday, 31 July 2010


My more dedicated readers will remember the debate that took place in Greece a few months ago on just how many civil servants there are. Last time our government counted, there were some 550,000, and I argued that the total could be as high as 1m if everyone in education, health and social services was thrown into the mix. Our government has now completed its mandatory census of civil servants and the total (excluding any non-compliant piggies) appears to be somewhere in between those estimates.

Here's how it actually works. We know from LFS that the number of people working in public administration is ca. 370,000. The number of people on the Government's direct payroll, on the other hand, now appears to be more than twice that, at ca. 770,000. (Original government statment here).

A quick bit of math reveals that one in ten of all the people working outside public administration are also civil servants, and that (given the past estimate of 550,000) at least 200,000 work in agencies or organisations whose finance people answer to the central government only in the most rudimentary of ways. This may still not include the staff of nominally private but actually publicly funded organisations which have stubbornly refused to acknowledge their troughing ways.

Some priceless gems have come of the fraught census exercise. My favourite is captured here:

According to a civil servant: ” The only thing they want to find out is how much we earn and not who we really are!!” 

That is correct Mitsos. We could not give a monkey's.

Even this figure may not be accurate as the government believes many people have not signed up - these will be given a chance to explain their reasons for not doing so before final figures are released in late August- early September. Members of the judiciary are likely to be the most common offenders as their professional association (i.e. union) stubbornly opposed their participation in the census. Our troughers in black have explained that they are offended by the suggestion that they are civil servants - they are, as they point out, not subject to the Civil Servants' code and, as officials of the Third Estate they are more like MPs or Ministers than civil servants.

Yaaaawn. I'll bet they would soon become civil servants if their paychecks started arriving late. In all seriousness, I sense a new pattern forming whereby everyone fingered as a civil servant will henceforth go to any lengths to prove they are not - as a possible insurance policy against redundancies. I don't think it's going to work.

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